Category Archives: Hermeneutics

“A letter from one’s Father sent from heaven to be a guide to the Father’s house” by Herman Bavinck

“It is a true mark of spiritual life when our heart yearns after and longs for the Word. It is completely natural, just as one who is hungry longs for bread, the thirsty for water, and the sick for medicine.

Just as naturally, the one who is spiritual with a holy longing reaches for the Word of God and for Christ, who is offered in that Word. Those who are spiritual never grow beyond that Word.

Unlike the mystic’s dreams, the Word is not used as a ladder to ascend to a certain height, and then to spread one’s own wings and support oneself.

Anyone who tries to do so will soon fall to earth broken.

Anyone who refuses food will soon starve.

Anyone who does not heed the word of Christ does not love Him (1 John 5:3).

Anyone who rejects medicine has no need of a physician.

But the spiritual person, as long as one lives and with all one’s soul, feels bound to that Word as the means of communion and fellowship with God, because God has bound Himself to that Word.

It is only in the proportion one is planted in that Word that one grows and becomes stronger.

As ivy to a wall, the spiritual person holds fast to the Word.

As one leans upon a rod or a staff on a pilgrimage, so one leans on the Word. One becomes increasingly attached to it, and increasingly devoted to it.

The spiritual person’s love for the Word becomes stronger, considers it ever-increasing in value, and always finds in it a rich treasure for both heart and life.

For the one who is spiritual, it becomes increasingly God’s Word, a Word that comes to that person from God, a letter from one’s Father sent from heaven, to be a guide to the Father’s house.

‘Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path’ (Ps. 119:105). ‘Oh how I love Your law! It is my meditation all the day’ (Ps. 119:97).”

–Herman Bavinck, The Sacrifice of Praise: Meditations Before and After Admission to the Lord’s Supper, Trans. and Ed. Cameron Clausing and Gregory Parker Jr (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 2019), 24-25.

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“The only foundational pillar of the new world” by G.K. Beale

“Now that Christ has come and has launched a new cosmos, the old cosmos has begun to be destroyed. The only element or fundamental building block of the new creation is Christ.

And since there is only one Christ, of whom the new creation consists and upon whom it is built, there can be only one newly created people subsisting in that renovated creation. In what sense can it be said that the old world has already begun to be destroyed?

The elements of divisiveness that sustained the sinful structure of the old world have been decisively decimated by Christ, and He Himself has replaced them as the only foundational pillar of the new world.

This is what Paul has in mind in Gal. 6:14–16, where he says that through the cross of Christ ‘the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. For neither is circumcision anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation. And those who will walk by the elements (stoichēsousin) of this rule, peace and mercy be upon them, even upon the Israel of God.’

That is, those who conduct their lives on the foundational ‘elements’ of Christ, who is the inaugurated new creation, are partakers of the new creation, and they will experience the peace and unity promised to occur in the new heaven and earth.

We could picture Christ as a hermeneutical filter through which the law must pass in order to get to the new creation.”

–G.K. Beale, A New Testament Biblical Theology: The Unfolding of the Old Testament in the New (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2011), 874–875.

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“How can we be wise apart from the Wisdom of God?” by John Calvin

“We are taught in this passage that the knowledge of Christ must be sought from the Scriptures. Those who imagine what they like about Christ will ultimately have nothing but a shadowy ghost in His place.

First then, we must hold that Christ cannot be properly known from anywhere but the Scriptures. And if that is so, it follows that the Scriptures should be read with the aim of finding Christ in them.

Whoever turns aside from this object, even though he wears himself out all his life in learning, will never reach the knowledge of the truth. For how can we be wise apart from the Wisdom of God?

Moreover, as we are commanded to seek Christ in the Scriptures, so He declares in this passage that our work will not be fruitless, for there the Father bears witness to His Son in such a way that He will manifest Him to us beyond all fought.

But what hinders most men is that they look at them only carelessly and as it were in passing. But it needed the utmost application, and so Christ commanded them to search diligently for this hidden treasure.

Accordingly, the abhorrence for Christ which the Jews feel, who have the Law constantly in their hands, must be imputed to their laziness. For the brightness of God’s glory shines clearly in Moses, but they want to have a veil to obscure that brightness.

‘By the Scriptures,’ of course, is here meant the Old Testament. For Christ did not first begin to be manifested in the Gospel; but the One to whom the Law and the Prophets bore witness was openly revealed in the Gospel.”

–John Calvin, The Gospel According to St John: 1-10, Calvin’s New Testament Commentaries, Vol. 4; trans. T.H.L. Parker, Ed. David Torrance and Thomas Torrance (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1961), 139. Calvin is commenting on John 5:39.

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“You’re left with a con” by Andrew Sach and Tim Hiorns

“If you take a text out of context, you’re left with a con.”

–Andrew Sach and Tim Hiorns, Dig Deeper Into The Gospels: Coming Face To Face With Jesus In Mark (Nottingham: IVP, 2015), 44.

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“A way to pay attention to God” by Andy Naselli

“You may be tempted to skip this chapter because you think it’s boring or relatively unimportant. Grammar doesn’t have to be boring. (I love it!)

But more importantly, grammar matters because God chose to reveal Himself to us with grammar. So paying attention to grammar is a way to pay attention to God.

The more accurately you understand grammar, the more accurately you can understand God.”

–Andy Naselli, How to Understand and Apply the New Testament: Twelve Steps From Exegesis To Theology (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 2017), p. 82.

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“Biblical theology is essential ” by Graeme Goldsworthy

“The serious and informed teaching of biblical theology is essential to the life of the church, like the hub of a wheel. The hub of the church and of the life of the believer is Jesus Christ, the crucified and risen Lord.

He is not only the hermeneutical center of the whole Bible, but, according to the biblical testimony, He gives ultimate meaning to every fact in the universe. He is thus the hermeneutical principle of all reality.”

–Graeme Goldsworthy, “Biblical Theology as the Heartbeat of Effective Ministry,” in Biblical Theology: Retrospect & Prospect, Ed. Scott Hafemann (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2002), 284.

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“There is another kind of reading” by John Piper

“The Bible is a book. Jesus came in the flesh and was called the Word of God. He taught many things, and He did many things. He died for sins, and He rose again. He founded the church and poured out the Holy Spirit.

All that foundational speaking and doing is preserved in a book. My ninth point is this: reading a substantial book well is hard mental work.

You learned your native language when you were very young– before you were five years old. You didn’t know you were working when you did it. And so most of us assume that reading just comes naturally.

But there is more than one kind of reading. One kind of reading is passive and involves very little aggressive effort to understand. We just take what comes and let it happen to us.

But there is another kind of reading that is very active, and digs down into the author’s mind, and wants to understand everything it sees. It may sound strange to say it, but one of the most scholarly things I ever learned was that many parts of the Bible (like Paul’s letters and Jesus’s sermons) are less like a string of pearls and more like chains of steel.

That is, the authors don’t just give a sequence of spiritual gems; they forge a chain of logical argumentation. Their statements hang together. They are linked. One connects to another, and those two connect to another, and those three to another, and so on as the unbreakable argument of glorious truth extends through a passage.

And, when the Holy Spirit enlightens our minds, this chain of argumentation is on fire.

Rigorous reading– scholarly reading– traces these kinds of argumentation. Each proposition begins with a logical connector (‘for,’ ‘that is,’ ‘as,’ ‘because,’ ‘ever since,’ ‘and,’ ‘therefore,’ etc.). These small words are among the most important in the Bible. They tell us how the statements are related to each other…

On and on the chain of argumentation grows. Words become statements, and statements are linked to form larger units. And these larger units are linked to build whole books.

The point here is simply: since much of the Bible is written this way, pastors are called to trace these arguments with active, careful, rigorous reading, and explain statements and the connections and the larger units to their people, and then apply them to their lives. This kind of reading is exceedingly demanding.

All this is involved in the fact that God revealed Himself to the church through the centuries in a book. He did not have to give the church a book. He could have done it in another way. He could have just given daily dreams to His people. He could have caused dramatizations to appear in the sky.

He could have communicated to a select few with secret knowledge and made them memorize everything and pass it on to another select few in each generation. He could have communicated to us any way He wanted to. And He did it in a book.

This is one reason that everywhere the Christian church has spread, there have been not only churches and hospitals, but also schools– places of rudimentary and then advanced scholarship. It’s because we’re dependent on a book. Since our faith is rooted in the understanding of a book, we want people to learn to read, and then to have the Bible in their language, and to learn how to think carefully and doctrinally about the book.

So the very existence of the Bible as a book signals that the pastor is called to read carefully and accurately and thoroughly and honestly.”

–John Piper and D.A. Carson, The Pastor As Scholar and the Scholar as Pastor (Wheaton: Crossway, 2011), 64-66.

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